Amid endless choices, the sound of a Dave Holland bass line compels attention. A master of tone and rhythm, the bassist, composer, and bandleader is now in his fifth decade as a performer and his music possesses a rich and kaleidoscopic history. One of Holland's mentors, the affably sage-like saxophonist Sam Rivers, gave him a tip once. Sam said, ‘Don't leave anything out?play all of it,' Holland once told a radio interviewer. That's become almost a mantra for me over the years, he says, as I've tried to find a way to build a vehicle which lets me utilize the full spectrum which includes the tradition, playing the blues and improvising freely. I love all that music, and there's been a desire to reconcile all those areas, to make them relevant, hopefully, in a contemporary context, as one music.
Holland is not the only accomplished bassist in music, an instrument rich in authoritative figures like Charles Mingus and Scott LaFaro. But he's the only Dave Holland, and the vivid personal imprint he brings to the music performs stamps it with a sound that transcends any arbitrary descriptions of genre or format. He is a seminal figure in post-1960s jazz, but has never allowed his work to be limited by tradition.
This path has led him from the frontiers of free improvisation to his modern ensembles that fully embody Rivers' philosophy of playing all of it.